In a booming industry, like the cannabis one is, there's bound to be plenty of marijuana news that proves the drug is becoming more and more socially acceptable. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, one of my buddies who works at a big-time PR firm was telling me about how his boss — a 58-year-old with three decades of experience — busted out a joint at a company outing, casually lit and smoked it, then preceded to offer it to some of his shocked coworkers. If that's not enough proof that marijuana is no longer taboo, we don't know what is.
As the marijuana industry continues to prove that it's growing at a rapid pace, there are a few indications that a few industry developments are only going to impact such growth. From things such as an increase of states legalizing it, to innovative products that are giving smokers more options to consume weed, it's an exciting and interesting time to be in the business.
Since we're always interested to see what's to come, we reached out to some of the top experts in the marijuana industry, asking them to give us a few major developments that we should keep an eye out for. From cryptocurrencies being accepted as payments to new tech such as virtual reality and chatbots, here are what some of those industry leaders had to tell us.
"Between payment-based innovations, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technologies, there are a number of technological shifts taking place in the cannabis industry. With the marijuana space lacking a viable payment solution, and bitcoin lacking as a transactional medium, these two industries are combining over time to fill each other's gaps. Furthermore, through the integration of blockchain technology, we're seeing an increase in transparency in the cannabis sector, which is greatly needed. We're working to make sure these markets are joined together in a cohesive, effective manner, and I hope other companies in the space start to do the same." — Wil Ralston, President of SinglePoint
“There are a lot of major developments on the horizon in the cannabis industry. The recent move by the Justice Department to rescind the Cole Memo has sparked the federal conversation and could lead to cannabis being descheduled, which will create incredible opportunities for cannabis businesses and investors. Additionally, new technology like 360 cameras, VR, and chatbots continue to be integrated into the industry to maximize operational efficiency and customer experience.”— Jeffrey Zucker, Co-Founder and President of Green Lion Partners
“As a Canadian company, our focus is July 1st (Canada goes fully legal) and how as a company we can best prepare. We are excited to be launching new products this year across all brands that will highlight innovation. Coming off CES, it’s so vital that as a community we strive for best in class products to allow the industry to go from a place of stigma to sophistication.” — Lisa Harun, Co-Founder of Vapium
“The west coast offering fully regulated recreational cannabis consumption has been an exciting step forward for the cannabis industry, but 2018 promises to be a very green year for all cannabis brands from coast to coast. The debut of Massachusetts' regulated recreational cannabis market in July 2018 will offer an east coast anchor for our industry. The fight for federalization marches onward with every new state, but states are seeing the tremendous economic and community value of regulating cannabis medicine.” — Krista Whitley, CEO of Altitude Products
“2018 is the year that reasonable and redundant access to banking and electronic payment processing will be firmly established. There is now a template for compliant, transparent bank accounts (accepting both cash and electronic deposits) with sufficient banking bandwidth to open several thousand accounts, plus enough in the near-term pipeline to provide reasonable access for all the rest of the tens of thousands of compliant licensees and ancillaries (who provide goods and services to marijuana-related businesses) by year’s end. In a parallel development, several fintechs are rolling out compliant MasterCard/Visa merchant processing and B2B electronic payment solutions, which when tethered to compliant bank accounts represent a complete non-cash sustainable banking solution. By providing banking, supervision, accountability and cash-free transactions, responsible industry entrepreneurs will avert the dangerous consequences of billions of dollars of untracked cash flooding into their communities.” — Nathaniel Gurien, CEO of FinCann
"2018 had a very dramatic start. At first, huge headway was made in individual states, with legalization measures approved in 2017 being implemented, much to the excitement of industry occupants and enthusiasts. That excitement was tampered by Attorney General Sessions' decision to reverse the Cole Memo, which will restrict states' rights to design and implement their own cannabis policies. The new political environment will likely cause uncertainty in the space, while investors and stakeholders will need to assess risks involved in operating within the industry. With this in mind, the cannabis sector is quite familiar with uncertainty and federal restrictions, and has continued to thrive in spite of the forces working actively to stunt its growth." — Richard Huang, Co-Founder of Cloudious9
Lead image via Getty.